Recently, I began recording certain LEXinars for a client with a documented learning disability. That was an educational accommodation intended to level the field for an individual who could document the need for said accommodation. I also recently agreed to record a LEXinar for an overseas client who was taking it in the middle of the night, and I told the class that I was recording it and would share the recordings with everyone. I have a heart and I am a reasonable person, after all. But both of those sets of arrangements were made ahead of time, and these situations are completely different from people whose plans change after they commit to a class schedule, or from people who are taking a hard class and missed something..
Well, those two agreements in the midst of a busy summer of teaching have opened the floodgates to client requests for recordings. People have noticed that I’m recording and now there are a bunch of new requests. Vacation plans. Schedule changes. A broken note-taking hand. Helpful for reviewing. This morning, I woke up to three such requests. I currently have 91 people in 6 classes, and an additional 30 people in two year-long classes. If even just 5% of people begin requesting special recording favors, that’s 6 requests each week. Of course I got pissy about it, and I feel like a heartless broken record telling people no repeatedly. So I took a step back, recognizing that there is obviously a need — or at least a want — for recordings, so I had best examine that and consider what I want to do about it. And I think now I’ve got my finger on its pulse.
- Recorded courses I have given in the past have been roundly abused for purposes other than what was intended. My former employer, the Children’s Dyslexia Centers, continued using recordings of me teaching Advanced Language Training classes for years after I was no longer employed by them, and long after my understanding of language had become far more rigorous and accurate. They may still be using them for all I know; I never gave permission, because it was work for hire, and technically they “owned” the work. However, the original recordings were never intended for longitudinal use! The weekend trainings were recorded simply as a means to provide them to people who had a conflict or were sick during the scheduled real-time training weekends that year. I can prove this, because I was hired to do new classes each year for several years running. They didn’t retread the previous year’s recordings; we had new ones each year, for that year’s cohort. But they they killed their regional Advanced Training program, and they just kept farming out copies of the most recent recordings to the individual Centers. I even had several Centers that were trying to use these old recordings to give their trainees graduate credit. No university wants to sign off on grad credit based on videos of an instructor who (a) has changed their factual understanding and approach, and (b) is not available for commentary or engagement. Moreover, none of the participants who were recorded have ever given their consent for those recordings to be used in perpetuity. So I am extremely wary — and rightly so — of people who want to own recordings of my work, for any reason.
- My understanding is not static. If it were, I could just record LEXinars, put them in a can, and make money sitting on my couch. But that’s not how I operate. I am not a teevee show. Each rendering of a LEXinar is different, because my research continues, my understanding deepens, I continue to work with kids and present information in new ways, and each cohort of clients is different. I don’t change the slides and handout every time; what changes is the commentary.
- I offer my clients the opportunity to retake LEXinars free of charge any time they are offered, space permitting.
- I host a private Facebook group for clients where they can ask questions pretty much non-stop, any time, and I will gladly offer an understanding.
- I am generous with my time, meeting with people, answering questions via email and Facebook and zoom, offering discounts and freebies and easy refunds. I do not owe anyone a recording of me doing my work. Do YOU want to be recorded doing your job, and give people the opportunity to watch you over and over again while you do your job? I am still not a teevee show, nor am I an answer factory. (I am also not a curriculum clearinghouse, a mind-reader, a school, or nice.) I am a human being in human relationship with my human clientele studying human writing systems. Many, many people have grown their understanding immeasurably because they study with me without having recordings of every word, every gesture, every blink and sneeze. And I already make films and occasionally handouts available for LEXinars.
- People abuse recordings as an excuse to just not show up to class. This happens in my year-long classes, which are automatically recorded. Even though people commit to the full schedule on the front end, after the first few classes, some people just stop showing up for every class. Each person has what feels like a good reason or good excuse to them, but to me, it starts to sound like a lot of noise from a faceless crowd with time-management problems. I have addressed that in my year-long classes, but it’s the same trend with short-term LEXinars: people are much less inclined to make sure to show up in class if they know that it will be recorded. That’s human nature, but it’s still disrespectful of my commitments, my schedule, and my time management.
- Recording and uploading movie files takes extra time. If I teach a 90-minute class, the recording takes about 15-20 minutes to process. That’s a 17-22% increase in the time I invest in the delivery of a class, and it does not come with a commensurate increase in pay. It means that when I am done teaching, I have to stand around at my computer for an additional 15-20 minutes before I can send class files to participants, OR I have to remember to come back to it later to upload it. Likewise, when I upload the recording, it takes about 10x as long for the transfer service to process and upload as a handout or a slideshow. So I sit around and wait. Then I have to look at who gets the recording and who doesn’t; I can’t just email the whole group.
What is my time worth? I mean, if your time with your family or your time reviewing your notes or your time camping or your vacation time or your client schedule or whatever you are asking me to work around — if that time is valuable, then what does it mean to you that I am sitting around my desk for an extra half hour every time I teach a class, because someone wants a recording? If I am to put my full heart into my work, then managing these requests on a mass scale is untenable, both temporally and emotionally.
So here’s what I’ve decided: I will agree to record and upload every LEXinar under the following conditions:
- The request is made properly at least 48 hours prior to the installment you wish to have recorded.
- Disability Accommodation: This request is accompanied by professional documentation of a learning disability or physical disability. You can’t just tell me you’re dyslexic; many of my clients are dyslexic. If you are requesting that I record classes, I will need to see documentation that establishes why a recording is necessary. This is no different from any university course: you can’t just tell your instructor that you have a disability; it has to be properly documented with the appropriate office. This agreement requires you to attend each class; you will not receive a recording instead of attending the live installment, but in addition. If you do not attend an installment, you will not be eligible to receive the recording. It is a supplement, not a replacement.
- Supplemental Recording: If you do not have a documented disability, and you simply want a recording to review a session you are attending in real time, then there is a $20 fee. You must purchase the recording(s) prior to the start of class, and note which installment(s) you want to record by indicating the name of the LEXinar and the dates of the installments in your purchase. Do not separately contact me to check on it or reiterate your request. Only requests made 48+ hours prior to the class you want recorded will be guaranteed; I may honor requests with less lead time but I will not make any promises. I also reserve the right to deny any such requests with a refund of the purchase for any and all reasons.
- Replacement Recording: If you are not able to make the scheduled class for any reason at all, then a recording of an individual installment may be made available for a $35 fee, regardless of your disability status. Note that that fee is on top of the registration that has been paid for the class. This offer is not good for the first or only installment of any class; if you can’t make the first installment, you will have to wait for a subsequent round of that LEXinar. This offer is not good on more than 1 installment per LEXinar, and it cannot be applied to LEXinars with just 1 or 2 installments. To request a replacement recording, you must purchase the recording(s) prior to the start of class, and note which installment(s) you want to record by indicating the name of the LEXinar and the dates of the installments in your purchase. Do not separately contact me to check on it or reiterate your request. Only requests made 48+ hours prior to the class you want recorded will be guaranteed; I may honor requests with less lead time but I will not make any promises. I also reserve the right to deny any such requests with a refund of the purchase for any and all reasons.
- Your purchase includes and assumes your explicit agreement that the recordings are for personal study only; they may not be shared, posted, distributed, screened, or broadcast under any circumstances without my express written permission. This means that each person requesting, accessing, or using a recording has to pay for it; I do not give anyone permission to share a recording with someone else in the class. If I were to catch wind of people doing such a thing without my explicit permission, they’d be completely dead to me. Fortunately, my clients are, as a whole, incredibly decent and respectful and understanding people.
I’m not saying any of this because I am just a giant crab or egotistical or heard-hearted; I am saying all of this based on my painful personal experiences, the previous theft and abuse of my intellectual property, my limited patience with menial technological tasks, the number of hours I actually have in a day, and how they are best spent. I know that the reason that people value my work — the reason my LEXinars are full and busy and people don’t want to miss a thing — is not because I am really gifted at waiting for recordings to upload. The more time I spend processing and uploading recordings, the less time I spend responding to inquiries, or developing that long-overdue Vowel Spelling resource I want to make, or volunteering with my local public schools.
Making recordings available costs me something, so it’s time for me to pass those costs along.
And that’s the heart of the matter.